Chapter 524: A trip to America

Chapter 524: A trip to America


The MV for <<What More Do You Want Me To Do>> was acted out by an unknown actor and actress.

Apple appeared in the images as a bystander. With different clothes, makeup and hairstyle, she would stand at some bend on the street, the window of a hotel, on the platform at a train station.

It was like she was a local inhabitant of each city, unrelated to this over a long span of time yet somehow witnessing every scene.

From the couple’s sweet romance and trip together to their separating, distanced back figures…

She also witnessed one of them returning on their own afterwards, standing at the entrance to the street where they had once held hands and walked. Yet, they hesitated, not daring to enter.

She sang:

“...” At least when we split up, I was graceful and magnanimous.

I would always choose to steer clear from that street afterwards,

Yet how much I hope that we can meet on another street

My thoughts still stubbornly insist, refusing to forget…”

To be honest, there had actually not been such a clear breakup process between Apple and Xu Tingsheng. There had been no argument, no hysterics, no proposing that perhaps they should end it there, no stubborn, unhappy retort. It was great.

There had been none of that breakup drama whatsoever.

Yet, the two had still split up. There had not been any intense, ultimate snap. Instead, it had been like an elastic sweet strand being pulled, becoming thinner and more fragile till finally, connectivity had been lost...and so, the sweetness had gone to another.

If there had really been a breakup, it must have been the moment Xiang Ning had said her name in the hospital. Indeed, Apple had behaved gracefully and magnanimously back then.

Yet, it is generally the case that when a couple breaks up, the one smiling and saying ‘I feel this is pretty good. It’s fine, don’t worry about it’, compared to the one who is filled with guilt, is...far less able to forget about it. It is also likelier for their sorrow to persist in the many days ahead. 

Having felt guilt for a period of time, Xu Tingsheng was already enjoying his long-awaited happiness. In the meantime, the graceful, magnanimous Apple remained trapped there.

“What more, what more do you want me to do?

...Loving you, it was certainly worth it.

I’m asking nothing of you, really.

The roads I walked with you, you mustn’t forget

Because those were the happiest times of mine

…”

In the MV, the boy and the girl were jogging together by the riverbank, running, running...till finally only the lone figure of the girl remained, running alone. Towards the sunset, sunrise, spring, autumn, short hair, ponytail...the images interchanged.

The same words repeated over and over: What more, what more do you want me to do?

This was like someone after they had broken up being stubborn and antagonistic, expressing their dissatisfaction and grievances as they indirectly blamed the other party...in truth, though, in having said these words, she had already become the losing, pleading party.

“What more, what more do you want me to do?”

“Please tell me what I should do...and I’ll do it.”

These two sentences were actually exactly the same. It was just that the latter which seemed kind of servile, as compared to the former, stubborn one...harboured a little bit more hope.

I’m asking nothing of you, really-the one speaking was still refusing to be honest. Still, while seemingly speaking in a commanding tone the next moment, it was still pleading in all actuality...

“The roads I walked with you, you mustn’t forget. Because those were the happiest times of mine.”

“Please, oh please do not forget the roads we once walked together. Because those were the happiest times of mine.”

These two sentences were actually exactly the same. It was only that the former was like when someone who had already reached the end of the line and was no longer being doted upon still pretended that they were cared about. Deluding herself in thinking that she could still be haughty and unreasonable, giving orders as if she was still...that formerly privileged.

While actually, she knew full well that she no longer possessed such an authority.

At the end of the MV, a girl stood alone as she faced the ceaselessly beating waves...and there was Apple off in the distance, sitting on the rocks, hugging her knees as she gazed into the sky.

And she concluded, “One night, I had a dream. Your hair white, you said you would bring me off to wander. Still I didn’t hesitate, and off I followed you to heaven.”

……

They had an early dinner on Sunday. After that, Xu Tingsheng helped Xiang Ning to pack her bag, putting in her books and clean school uniform before stuffing it to the brim with snacks. Finally, he put the backpack on his own back.

He grabbed his car keys, but set them down again as he remembered that Xiang Ning had said that there should be no driving this time.

Fortunately, their home was not far from the present, soon-to-be-forsaken site of Yanzhou’s first-tier senior high as it was nothing more than a twenty plus minute walk.

The two descended the building one after another.

Yanzhou was actually already becoming rather hot as April drew to a close. Fortunately, beautiful, gentle rays of light were emitted from the setting sun through the leaves of some towering parasol trees. From time to time, it even gave off the impression of the Tyndall effect.

Most of the old streets of the southern cities should have histories with London Planes. But as the old streets had later turned into new streets, so had the trees disappeared along with them into wherever.

While these trees seemed to already be somewhat aged with thick, robust branches and some mottled black spots and cracks on their surfaces that marked the passing of the ages, they still remained lush with greenery.

As Xu Tingsheng recalled, these should be disappearing in a few years. At the very least, when he had come to Yanzhou in the year 2011 in his previous life, this had already become a bustling, modern street…

Still, the trees were still here now, and the pavement they walked on was still made of that oldest grey brick. Some were loose in a corner and would accumulate water on rainy days. A single misstep and mud and water would splatter one all over.

Xiang Ning held Xu Tingsheng’s sleeve as the two walked leisurely towards the school beneath the scattered rays of the sun, tall trees hanging overhead.

This was Xu Tingsheng’s first time sending Xiang Ning to school like this. There were many young couples walking beside them. Some were holding hands, others with arms around the shoulder. From time to time, when a teacher drove or rode past, they would hurriedly separate.

Xiang Ning was not afraid of this. She said: I’m just holding a sleeve.

Once in a while, when Xiang Ning’s classmate or friend passed by, they would feigned normalcy as they pulled over and call out with one foot on the ground, “Xiang Ning, going to school?”

Xiang Ning would smile as she answered them, “Yeah, that’s right! You too, I suppose?”

An utterly meaningless exchange.

Xiang Ning’s classmates and friends actually merely wanted to make use of this chance to take a few more glances at Xu Tingsheng who was walking beside her and helping her to carry her red bag. After appraising him, they would smile and blink knowingly at Xiang Ning, say ‘I’ll be going on ahead then’ and be on their way on their bikes.

Every time this happened, Xiang Ning would steal a few glances at the side of Xu Tingsheng’s face after that person had left, feeling bashful but happy too.

The twenty plus minutes went by in a flash. Reaching the school gate, it was actually still early as the young couples were reluctantly saying goodbye to each other on either side of the road. Then, those in the same school entered one after another, while those from different schools waved to each other from either side of the gate. One said ‘hurry up and go back’ while the other said ‘I’ll leave after I see you go in’.

Looking at Xu Tingsheng, Xiang Ning said, “Pass me my bag.”

Xu Tingsheng gave her her bag, helping her put it on her back.

“It was great,” Xiang Ning said, “If only it could be like this every weekend. You stand here later. When I’m inside, I’ll turn back and say goodbye to you. Then, you’ve got to act like you really cannot bear to part with me. You’ve got to wait till I’ve gone very far away and waved many times before you can leave.”Xu Tingsheng said, “Okay.”

Finally, Miss Xiang passed the threshold, turned back and waved, said goodbye...went very far away, waved a good many times.

As he walked home alone, Xu Tingsheng suddenly wondered: Why don’t I just stop? Actually, I’ve long since gotten enough. I definitely will be able to afford houses and cars in this life. Life won’t be just abject poverty again. In that case, why don’t I stop? To enjoy the simple happiness that I could only dream about in my previous life, having the days pass just like that…”

What Xiang Ning wanted was actually very simple.

When Xu Tingsheng got home, he received a text from her.

Gotta hand our phones over to the teacher for safekeeping. I’m starting to miss you already.

……

On the long Golden Week holiday, Xiang Ning went to help out at her parents’ newly opened braised chicken rice store where the food was selling like hotcakes. Meanwhile, Xu Tingsheng went to America as originally planned.

Going with him were Fang Yunyao, Fu Cheng and a small team from Xingchen that was led by Hu Chen.

There had originally only been one purpose for this trip, which was to bring Fang Yunyao to the private clinic where Xu Tingsheng had previously fixed his scars. Getting rid of the scars on her body was something that they had decided on since way back.

Fang Yunyao and Fu Cheng were both unwilling for those scars to remain, especially when Niannian was gradually growing up. With so many shocking scars across her mother’s body, this was something that would surely bring down one’s mood, maybe even cause fear. It was very difficult to explain too.

As for why Hu Chen and a team from Xingchen was accompanying them, it was because Hu Chen had received an email from the West some time ago. The other party had expressed a desire to purchase a copyright from them.

It was the overseas copyright for <<Plants Versus Zombies>>.

The company that wished to purchase Xingchen’s copyright was called Facebook. The email had been sent by a person called Mark Zuckerburg.

In truth, with <<Plants Versus Zombies>> having rapidly gone viral soon after its launch, as the backdrop of the game was slightly on the Western side, those within the industry could tell at once that there was a market for it in the West. Thus, Xingchen had received quite a few of these copyright purchase requests over this period of time.

Yet, most of them weren’t Xu Tingsheng’s ‘fishing’ targets and had been frightened off by Xingchen’s asking price too.

Xu Tingsheng actually felt that his asking price was not high at all. This was set to be a mega intellectual property in the future. Also, as soon as something concerned IP in the West, its profit-generating power would far surpass that in China where IP was far less recognised.

Letting the foreigners have it so easy? No way.

Following his countless refusals and seemingly unreasonable requests, when the situation they knew of was different, all of Xingchen, Hu Chen included, believed mistakenly that Xu Tingsheng did not want to sell this copyright in the first place, or at least not right now.

Thus, Hu Chen had been much less enthusiastic when conveying such things to Xu Tingsheng.

He had only casually mentioned this at the end of a particular conversation after everything else was concluded...and Xu Tingsheng on the other side of the phone...had been beyond himself in excitement.

“Who did you say wishes to buy our copyright?” Xu Tingsheng pressed, seeking confirmation.

“Facebook, a social networking site from America. Its current user base is approximately one million. It’s an internet enterprise that seems to have potential. I think they probably want to borrow our model, earning a little profit via this game while primarily borrowing it to rapidly attract more users to the platform,” Hu Cheng replied earnestly.

Right now, in terms of user base and maturity rate, Facebook and Xingchen were actually still in completely different weight classes. Of course, the difference between the population of the two countries also factored in here.

Really, Facebook indeed wished to learn from Xingchen’s development model here. Otherwise, as a social media platform, it could simply provide others a platform for games when it was big in the future. Why would they have to hungrily seek their own copyrights?

Xu Tingsheng had originally planned to ‘fish’ around for a bit, seeing if he might be able to use this to come into contact with and invest in any overseas companies that were still starting out but would be big players in the future, fleece some shares.

What he had not expected was...just how big was this fish!

This was none other than Facebook, a future gold mine whose estimated worth would be 350 billion USD in the future...no, no, more like a diamond mine…

Xu Tingsheng was invigorated, his hopes rekindling intensely.

“Have you responded to them yet?”

“Not at the moment.”

Hu Chen was a little bemused by the rare enthusiasm that Xu Tingsheng was showing for once.

“They...definitely can’t afford it,” Hu Chen ventured a bit hesitantly.

Indeed, the current Facebook could not afford to buy the overseas copyright of <<Plants Versus Zombies>>. Actually, even if they could, Xu Tingsheng would raise the price till they could not at which point he would smilingly, benevolently say, “Although you guys can’t afford it, I have a little proposal…”

This proposal was: Copyright for shares.

Xu Tingsheng had never had a chance to see such a huge pie in both his lifetimes combined...it would simply be unreasonable if he did not try to get a piece of it.

“I know that they can’t afford it, ha!” Xu Tingsheng continued with his enthusiasm that was leaving Hu Chen increasingly befuddled: Why’re you so happy that they can’t afford it?!

“You tell them this. They definitely can’t afford the copyright, but we’re willing to consider…negotiating on shares. Shares for copyright,” Xu Tingsheng told him.

Hu Chen was taken aback for a time, “You want to acquire Facebook’s shares?”

Xu Tingsheng said, “Yeah.”

“You want to gobble it up? Doing social media overseas-let me tell you, I came back from overseas, and it actually isn’t as simple as that…” Hu Chen tried to dissuade him.

“Gobble it up?” Xu Tingsheng was a bit confused, “Why would I gobble it up? No! I just want some of its shares. I don’t need too much...of course, best not too little too. For instance, we could consider letting them pay half or even a third of the copyright’s price with their currently valuated shares...hmm, a fourth or a fifth...would actually be fine too.”

Xu Tingsheng thought: Gobble it up? Where would I look for Zuckerburg then? Is he someone who would be willing to work for another? If he leaves and builds a similar platform, what would I possibly do then to build Facebook up? I’m simply not cut out for that!

This matter reached a stalemate for a while as Hu Chen was simply unable to comprehend Xu Tingsheng’s intentions…

Still, Xu Tingsheng was the boss. If he insisted on doing it one way, Hu Chen could not stop him.

As per Xu Tingsheng’s instructions, he made initial contact with the other party in a more skilful way...and soon, a reply came: they were willing to negotiate.

Xu Tingsheng woke up laughing in his sleep a good several times for a while.

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